Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Okay, I'd better elaborate, which will be hard to do considering that I'm writing this out of sheer boredom due to the inability to fall asleep and the end of Bush's State of the Union. I should start off by saying that I don't belong a secondary school that fits the description of 'school daze', although that rhetoric will be present throughout the day. I go to a school run by the county that had a hard tme of selecting laureates in my graduating year. This school is so much a mesh of people that have the same general interest that physical bullying almost never exists in the school. However, the school itself does have its classes of personalities, and so do other schools in the region. Tonight we'll discuss the types of people that you'll find in the American secondary school.
First are the computer geeks with clean report cards. To dispel the myth, many geeks are not dressed in dress clothes bearing pens in their breast pockets. Many of these 'geeks' actually do not exist, but are rather a deformed stereotype in America. Geeks will be confined to the computer, yes, but they do not have glasses most of the time and they usually do not have high-pitched voices or crooked teeth as the Urkel stereotype suggests. More importantly, they're far from outcasts; they even have their own cliques or will assimilate into other groups.
Second are the girly girls. 'Picture stalkers' drool over pictures of Dream Street and actually take advice from and adhere to magazines such as YM or J14 — both of which advertise for both genders when spoken but in the visual department show their true colours as magazines oriented toward girls and pushing the 'chic', 'glam', and 'sexy' girl image, but due to the fact that they, unlike the tabloids Star, National Enquirer, or Globe (not that they're entirely trustworthy), do not give any information as to obtain those images, these images drive many girls to anorexia. Some older ones will flout the dress code, wearing revealing clothing on the campus. Some will gawk at boys like me (there are currently three in a pack that gawk at me when I'm working) and then giggle amongst themselves. Some will horse about in the cafeteria, pushing and chivvying boys and often feigning physical offence. And some are on the path to contracting chlamydia, AIDS, or herpes. Contrary to the advertisements, there are NO girls who will buy the Bartz dolls. Not one girl I know has one of them.
Third are 'hagglers' that resort to looking at other profiles and chatting on MySpace using 'txtspk'. These come from all genders but are unified in the fact that what they communicate about boils down to a monotonous 'glum, glum, glum'. They carry over from picture stalkers and will also use the service to arrange dates with people they go to school with or have just met over the service itself (resulting in the abductions I talked about).
Fourth are isolated people. (Thanks to José's muttering in history class for this!) Some of these people don't fit into any category or are exiled or rejected by the other groups. Others are rather successful in their lives and don't feel the need to assimilate into any of these groups. They, alongside the geeks, tend to do the best in academics compared to picture stalkers or hagglers. However, some don't do as well due to low self-esteem. The isolated people keep schools from being true melting pots — which, for one, I think they should be.
It's amazing how distinct these groups are in every American school. Whether they're reinforced by the media (I'm glaring at James' comment on the MySpace article), by emotional, physical, or social contrasts, or by forced separation by the staff, they exist and have had a formidable effect on the politics of school. And they'd better enjoy this position, too; the only other place than college after you leave secondary school where these classes will form again is in prison.
Sorry, guys, but that's how I feel about you.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Then you'll begin asking me, why do I not have one?
The same can be answered for other blogging networks such as Xanga and LiveJournal. Most of the time these pages are not full of anything serious, but rather full of randomness. On one sidebar you'll find a little journal written in 'txtspk'; on another you'll see a photo slide show*; on the main division you have a list of interests, age, sex, and forms of contact. Yes, the journal, which usually doesn't feature anything constructive anyway, is secluded in an obscure corner of the page. Plus which, the service often will limit how much you can customise the look of your page, and those that have access to expanded controls often use them recklessly, changing the cursor or playing downloaded music. Because this practice is overdone and treated as a standard for sites like this, nothing constructive is yielded.
On top of the random assortment, MySpace has unsurprisingly become the venue for predators. A few years ago I read about a girl from a Catholic high school that advertised herself as 'sexyme4u2see' and posted nude pictures of herself on her personal page — and she ended up dead in a culvert. And not too long ago I heard that Xanga was the venue for meetings between David Ludwig and Kara Beth Borden of Lititz, Pennsylvania; the former killed the latter's parents after they severely restricted their relationship, but not before they had exchanged nude pictures of themselves via mobile phones. In the latter case Borden had risen her age on her profile to 17, ostensibly to evade COPPA regulations (which is why members on Super Cheats have to be at least 13).
And last but not least are unmoderated chat rooms. It is often here that many people agree to meet up in real life — and this way many unsuspecting minors die. They're not IRC rooms, so there's no reliable means of moderation or surveillance apart from anyone in the crowd that was smart enough to eavesdrop.
Even with those aside, it's the fact that too many people use them. This means — you guessed it — cliques. People will set up friend networks on MySpace, Hi5, and Xanga despite the intricacy of the network incurred by adding friends on your profile. And when there exists a high concentration of people using MySpace on a regular basis in a school, not only is the site marked out by Internet filters, but people will hog the computer room to form a chain of users sitting in their chairs, leaning over to advise another on the maintenance of their page. The ones who have to do actual schoolwork — or post stuff like this on Blogger like I do — are left out to wring their skin of tears.
* I have come to hate the practice of using buddy icons as photos in these galleries. On my Hi5 account I happen to have a person in my network who presents herself with an icon containing psychadelic flowers and pink text reading 'men prefer blondes but they love brunettes'. Oftentimes people prefer not to give actual pictures of themselves, but rather follow the practice of putting random uploaded images, which is explicitly against the site's terms of service.
Friday, January 20, 2006
As many of you know, Jeroen te Strake, known on the forum as 'Joeno', is the top administrator of PKMN.NET and inherently a close comrade of James, although he lives in the Netherlands and to my knowledge hasn't been to the UK. He is the man behind the rules that govern the forums there (and some people have protested in the past — I was one of them) and is the creator of their offline Pokédex and was for some time working on a project called Pokégame, which was supposed to emulate many of the existing RPGs but for the time being is unfortunately defunct.
So, I'll close on the following note: Happy birthday Jeroen — or, as the writer of the article slipped in, gelukkige verjaardag!
Friday, January 13, 2006
Carpetted: The swear filter should be made so that you can turn it off or on. Or, members who are too young/don't state their birthday have all the little bad words blanked out in *, but members who are old enough, or turn it off or something can view the cusses. Not that I like swearing or watching people swear, but lots of people are evading the swear filter, rules or no rules, and... yeah. Just my opinion.
Eszett: People evade it readily.
Bingo. People evade it readily. They've finally admitted to condoning such stuff on a forum that, as I made clear in the topic about the sex fics, is touted as 'the place for everyone'. (Here's proof. This can also be found at the top of every page on that forum.) Swear filters should not be customised by the user, in case you're on a public computer that'll block the page if it has an nXp filter installed. When you look at Serebii.net, there exists no consistent filter. (Again, proof. Oh, and more proof!) And many of the traffic of swearing and berations gets channeled to the new members, which aren't in short supply due to Serebii.net's synonymy with objective walkthroughs and news bulletins (although I heard the owner is about to sell the domain off and withdraw the site, but that was back in June and there show no signs of slowing).
Let's move on to SuperCheats. People that are familiar with that forum and with the triumvirate may know of the 'Annabel Burnination Project' that Jamarie created and submitted to Shiny Zapdos and Bad Wolf to get their yeses to it. We should also be familiar with Bleepman's very concise definitions of 'newbie' and 'n00b': the former being a new person and the latter being an inept member that is under the impression that he or she knows everything (later reworded to just 'idiot'). And then we should be familiar with Gaming Update's general harshness on new members.
Now that you've seen the two theses (which probably will give this the record for having the most links for a single article), you should have an idea of what I'm getting at. The 'n00b' problem. As recently as last night, Marc pHX (owner of the forum) assured me that these peiople were merely 'giving their blood' to keeping the forums under the rules. However, I have to disagree with him on this matter — these are new members that have no prior experience on that forum and probably have just read the rules, and they're doled discourtesies in the form of badmouthing and immediate referrals for ban. (This does not apply to people such as Justin14, who sexually harassed Juli last summer.) Here's the negative side of the spectrum: doubt.
Then we have a positive side to the spectrum: At my school, freshmen are supposed to be given more courtesies than the upperclassmen that have accumulated enough credits to graduate. As a result, we're rudely hit in the facwe with the policy to ignore their cutting in the luch line, thereby delaying our eating time by ten minutes when you add underclassmen that jump in with their phantasmal superiority cards in tow. Add the presence of cliques, which we learned are natural at that stage and are evident in the density of walking groups and MySpace friend lists. Then sprinkle it with egotism and you have a mixture that forms a barricade between the freshmen and the upperclassmen.
So where do we find middle ground? On the forums, new members will become people that you'd want to enroll in your team or roleplay. In school, they represent seeds ready to sprout into civil men and women. What they have in common is that we were once one of them. The people we upperclassmen are prejudiced toward, we once were and will never again be. There is also the fact that they, like us, are subject to the same legislation and rules that people at higher grade levels are obligated to follow. We are one people. We are humans.
And if it is supposed to be that way, why are attitudes toward the new members and us so different? The older members are more experienced and will expect people that haven't gotten to their level yet to eventually know how to master something. But if you are a parent and that's your philosophy, you're only going to make your child fail. And if you're in the position of moderator or administrator on a forum, it is your responsibility to grow these members into people that will contribute in an appropriate manner instead of saying 'When will you learn?' to every little thing.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
This fic is WEIRD XD . . . .
Snow did its best to keep falling, light and out of the way. Large flakes made their way down, just to land on the other snow flakes that had now made snow banks. It was dark again. Shadows loomed over the ceiling of the wooden tree house, like lunging fingers for a victim. May and Drew paid no mind. It was the dead of winter, and even with a heating system, cold still seeped through the floor door to tickle their vulnerable toes. The two sat side by side, staring off into space. Their thoughts were not important, and mostly vacant. Their backs were against the back wall, that faced the tree’s trunk, and their legs were outstretched, stretching for the window that faced out toward the rest of the forest. A drone of silence had overcome them right after a small, dumb fight about coordinating. May had fought hard against Drew’s tactics for coordinating. It was mostly due to a question - would attacks work well alongside opposing type attacks for an appeal? May had specified that she meant - would it look good to have a Water Gun and a Flamethrower shot at the same time during an appeal? Drew had told her no, and that it’s better to go with a flow - keep fire with fire and water with water. May had then countered in saying it would bring something new to the appeal, and then that's when the fight had broken out. Both sides preached that their strategy was better concerning the judges. Drew had gotten in an insult, in saying May couldn’t possibly have an opinion, concerning the fact she hadn’t been in the career long enough. The fight then swooped into a debate about what was considered “enough” in Drew’s eyes, something he could easily win. How could someone argue and debate about someone else’s personal opinion and win, anyway? It was simply impossible, and after a couple of lines, May set herself in the position she was situated in now. Her arms were crossed under her breasts, and now she folded her knees up to her chin. Nothing ran through her mind, and every time she heard Drew breath, she counted it. Some would call that obsessive, but she would argue it was complete boredom. Why, when you’re alone you count your own breaths. When you’re with someone else, you count their breaths. It was the only sound going around anyway. It made her nervous almost, or perhaps that wasn’t the right term. Whatever the feeling was, each breath sent Butterfrees to clutter inside her chest and stomach. She had to do something about it. She looked over at him. His legs were sprawled out and set apart; his back up against the wall. He was paying no attention to her and was completely oblivious she was captivated by one of his natural body functions. May wanted to say something, but nothing came to mind that would be appropriate. You can’t just say after a long silence “Hey, can you please stop breathing? You’re making me…Well, you’re making me…” It was much too difficult. She looked away. She had to do something to rid herself of the antagonizing crave to touch him. She outstretched her arm toward him and pinched his side. For a split second, she held onto a piece of his skin, which felt like mush. He jolted to the side.“Hey!” he couldn’t help but smile, yet he was still freaked out.It wasn’t enough though. That one pinch just made the craving even more pompous. May didn’t answer his silent questions, nor did she look him in the eye. He sat back where he was with a strange look on his face. May went ahead to poke him in the same spot she had pinched. Once again, his body proved to be soft in that area. May giggled to herself. Drew flailed his hands in another silent question, but again May would not answer, nor would she look at him. He sat back again, hoping she was done. But again, he was wrong, and this time May poked him in the butt. “May!” Drew shrieked.May only giggled louder and Drew shook his head. It wasn’t as though he resented the attention, but if she wanted to “get down and dirty” she could simply go all the way right about now instead of doing small insignificant things in hopes he would start. He now sat further away. He wanted all or nothing, and he was afraid she might go so far as to touch in naughty places she wasn’t yet allowed to venture because of her own rules. May sat with puppy dog eyes, staring at him, her cravings now taking over her. Drew did not to look at her, scared that he might fall into her devices of getting him to do what she wanted. When she saw her cute appearance wasn’t working she crept toward him on her knees, and sat like a sad kitten wanting to be let in from the rain next to him. She waited, quietly, obediently. He turned to look at her. Once he did, May jumped at her opportunity and gently kissed him upon the lips. Their eyes closed, taking in the feeling that encircled their mouths. May took it upon herself to go the extra step, and now used her tongue, just as Drew had done that fun day in the snow, to pierce in his lips in search of his own tongue. He gladly let her in. Their breathing escalated and a flock of Butterfrees had entered both hearts as they began to pet each other. Drew held May close to him almost so protectively, while his other hand stroked her light chocolate hair to ensure her safety with him. Both May’s hands were on his corresponding shoulder squeezing the muscle there that allowed him to shrug. Her hand climbed up his slender, young shoulders to the base of his neck where he let out a breath of comfort and then dove back in for another kiss. Her thin hands reached up his neck and onto his jaw bone. Her fingertips dug into his hair and ran across his bottom scalp. This wasn’t enough, though. The cravings wanted more, just so much more. May ended the kissing, but only for a short while. Her face was still close to Drew’s – she could feel the air of his exhale. She could see his lips were becoming a slight hue of violet and she gave a weak smile, satisfied with progress so far, and ironic for Drew’s thoughts that the session had been terminated. She dove in again for another kiss, her blue eyes closing for the sake of the moment. Her hands found Drew again, and they began their work as they vigorously tried to pull off Drew’s over jacket, in such a worried hurry as if the feeling that fueled them to do so would soon cease. May’s lips pulled away from Drew’s and they scanned the rest of his face. Her lips and nose probed his face as she got the jacket off and held him close. Drew sat with his head held back, letting May take over, curious about what she would do next. She held onto him, and they fell to the floor, yet oblivious of it as they tried to supervise where their hands were going. They found them quite hard to keep track of. May sat on top of Drew, one leg on either side as if she were a cowgirl atop her steed. May dove back in for another session of kissing, and Drew happily agreed. As time went on, May went from a sitting position, to lying on Drew. She knew it was no trouble for him, as with each breath he took, she was raised slightly into the air. In this position, their chests were firmly pressing against each other, which sped both hearts into over drive. Drew freely allowed his hands to wonder. It was too much trouble to keep them on a leash and they gladly found May’s bottom, in which she ignored. Not exactly ignored, but there was a party in her mouth she couldn’t pass up. May’s arms were folded at the elbows and her hands were stiffly holding onto Drew’s shoulders. Even without their help, something hard stuck into her hip. It wasn’t as though May wasn’t aware of Drew’s anatomy and the very feeling of everything he was at that moment made her feel powerful. To think she had the power to make the hairs on the back of his neck – and his pants, nonetheless – stand up like that. He almost appeared weak. Aside from his arms and hands, he lay stiff to continue on in the path she had laid out for him. She didn’t know, but he still wanted her to take front seat in this. When she wouldn’t go further, his stomach muscles tightened, and lifted her and himself back up into the sitting position they had started. It seemed as though May couldn’t take it either, and her hands worked like busy Beedrill on his black shirt. They parted for Drew’s shirt to come up over his head and they then continued to embrace in hugs and kisses. The cool air pinned his bare skin, still too young to wield any kind of manly hair. May went for a kiss again and Drew took it. Feeling as though he was missing out, he parted with May’s lips and found a hand that was the least obsessed with her beautiful curved figure to pull down the zipper that hid her body from him. The zipper buzzed down until it parted at the bottom. The red blouse parted like doors open to reveal May’s middle body. . . .
Once the red blouse had been tossed aside like a child for time out, Drew dug his face into her chest. They hadn’t yet been acquainted. It was at this point, May gave the leading role to Drew as he became obsessed with a single line. She ran her fingers through is hair, letting him enjoy himself. His arms were once again wrapped around her in a tight embrace. They lowered ever so slightly, little by little, until they got to the top of her skirt. He was going for it all, as his thumb went in, and nothing would stop him except for the words that were uttered next.“No, not yet,” May whispered softly into his ear, “Next time, I promise.”She then went back to snuggle into the base of his neck. Drew’s hands retreated and found other work. He registered into his mind that promise, and made it certain that next time he would make her keep it. A promise is a promise after all.
It's true, Serebii.net's moderator, Kiori, has laid another egg, this time in the form of Encyclopika's 'Treehouse Saga'.
We learned before that Serebii.net has contained a Shipping Fics forum that condones explicit love scenes with the disclaimer that they had to be in professional tone. Even though we exposed the presence of 'A Day Inside May' and the topic became popular, not much has been learned on Serebii.net itself. Between this story, 'Palletshipping' that turns Ash and Gary gay, and fads that group their members together, the forum is not accomplishing much as 'the place for everyone'. We also learned that there exists 'shipping', grouping of animé characters to create relationships that functions like matchmaking, and that it often con go as far as to create explicit stories such as this one.
Shipping Fics isn't the only venue of inappropriate dialogue and texts. There are issues of pornography viewing cropping up, and I recall a moderator cursing out someone that admitted to viewing such material. The objective of a moderator, I have always pressed, is to foster peace and order, and this does not include calling people morons or anything else that has the potential of creating unease. Unfortunately, Super Cheats was like that until the triumvirate was banned.
I approve of shipping stories, but I do not want them to get to the level at which we're making an NC-17 movie, which the NC-17 rating on Serebii Forums is evidently condoning. It's fine anywhere else, but definitely not on a forum that's supposed to be for kids from age 5 and up to adults, which means that the content has to be suitable for everything in between. (Remember, COPPA regulations, which are probably being flouted now, just prevent children under the age of thirteen from posting, not viewing.)
Sunday, January 01, 2006
In Proboards and SMF forums, you're supposed to 'exalt' or 'smite' people, increasing or decreasing their karma, depending on popularity. However, the PKMN.NET administration has decided to restrict it to a select few such as the people who donated to help the tsunami victims and people who actually know the ins and outs of the board. To many people, including myself, the concept of karma has still come off as something that has the ability to define groups and make way for more discrimination. Because the karma system is inadvertently being advertised as a way to determine the smart from stupid, it'll make for people going around the forums, polishing their figure, and declaring that they're cool and smart because of the karma figure they have. Then when you do drop the figure, the person changes instantly from glad to mad, demanding answers. And when the karma falls into the negatives, they eventually start to whimper about how 'unloved' they are.
The destructiveness of this system is a calling back to forum teams and cliques. We learned that cliques are formed by people with things in common and that members will have a tendency to shut others out of their lives as a result of joining. Karma levels are bound to set a boundary that is characteristic of the hindrance that separates the enclave that is the clique itself and the people that have the same potential but whose appearances detract from it. It also calls back to the point system inaugurated at the Sky Temple — ranks are set by points that are generated by activity and apparent cooperation with the rules and will to engage in the activities contained in the site. It has even been proved by psychological studies that assigning such statuses and points is destructive to the development of a person, especially a child that the site aims to make a user of.
Because TPL had an SMF forum, it came with an option of enabling karma. The disarray in those forums came primarily from the administrators flaming each other, and the low karma that nearly everyone received — if only the forums were still open today — was testament. So it's no coincidence that I only see high karma these days for the interdependent PKMN.NET admins!